Call for free Christmas parking

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The leader of Northumberland Conservatives has called for a week of free parking in market towns ahead of Christmas.

Coun Peter Jackson has tabled a motion for Wednesday’s meeting of Northumberland County Council to reinstate the tradition in Alnwick and Berwick as well as extending it to Morpeth, Hexham and Corbridge to boost trade.

The motion states: “Northumberland County Council recognises that our market towns lie at the heart of our communities. They provide the basis for thousands of jobs and are fundamental to our local economies.

“For years, shops in some of our market towns have struggled against an unfair parking regime. So if we want a strong and sustainable local retail economy our council should take more responsibility to ease trading difficulties. One way the Council can help is to be more thoughtful and creative with regard to parking charges.

“There is evidence that charging for car parking does distort trade and drive shoppers away from our high streets. It is also evident that the Christmas shopping period is absolutely vital to the survival of many businesses in our market towns.

“So during December 2012, this council resolves to reinstate the traditional week of free car parking in Berwick and Alnwick and to extend this to Morpeth, Hexham and Corbridge with a view to providing an immediate boost to local trade during the run up to Christmas. Traffic congestion will continue to be regulated by strict policing of the existing time controls.”